The NHL playoffs have long been known for wild facial hair, but it’s the NBA that might be earning a reputation for it as Oklahoma City’s most famous beard has been honored in quite an unusual way.
Much to the city of Seattle’s dismay, last night the Oklahoma City Thunder earned a trip to the NBA Finals for the first time since moving to Oklahoma after beating the San Antonio Spurs four games to two in the Western Conference Finals. The Thunder managed to survive down 0-2 to a Spurs team that had won 18 games in a row leading up to the start of the series, but thanks to Kevin Durant and James Harden, Oklahoma City was able to win four straight.
While everyone knew what Durant was capable of, Harden – the third overall pick of the 2009 draft – matured quicker than expected and his rising stardom has gained the attention of one local business. Ketch Design Centre on N. Western Avenue in downtown Oklahoma City has honored Harden by giving its building a giant Mohawk and beard as seen here:
Image courtesy of Twitter user @ferrrrn
The NBA’s newest franchise moved from Seattle to Oklahoma in 2008, changing it's name from the SuperSonics to the Thunder and was immediately embraced by a city that had never had a major professional sports franchise. This year’s playoffs have been no different at the Thunder’s home – the Chesapeake Energy Arena – which has been an all-white or all-blue madhouse, depending on what color shirts the team gives away.
While Durant has put together an MVP-caliber performance during the playoffs – averaging 27.8 points per game – the bushy-bearded Harden has logged just over 31 minutes per game, averaging 17.6 points and 5.2 rebounds. He has come up big for the Thunder a few times in the playoffs and last night he hit perhaps the biggest shot in the team’s history – a three pointer from the top of the key that gave Oklahoma City a five-point lead with 28.8 seconds remaining and ultimately the win.
The Thunder must now wait to see who their NBA Finals opponent will be – either the Miami Heat or the Boston Celtics – as it looks to bring home the franchise’s first title since the SuperSonics won it all in 1979.
No matter what happens, it might not be easy getting that building clean shaven again.
Ed is the lead hockey writer and a sports contributor for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @PhillyEdMiller, and subscribe on Facebook @ CraveOnlineSports.
Photo Credit: AP